A really interesting article came out in the Wall Street Journal about eBooks and how readers read, giving a realistic peek into what readers want. The article talks about how retailers can now use eBook readers to mine data about how readers interact with their books—how long they read for, when they put a book down or what they read next. This kind of data opens up a whole new world to eBook retailers and publishers—data that was previous unavailable.
Knowing when readers lose interest in a text or how many pages they are likely to read before walking away will help authors and publishers create eBooks that keep readers hooked and hopefully coming back for more. It could also be the first step in creating a truly interactive eBook, where readers get to leave feedback and interact (via the eBook) with authors and publishers.
However, this new data also raises questions about privacy—reading, which was once a completely individual and solitary act, is now being shared and studied by big name companies and publishers. Devices such as the Kindle or Nook can now record exactly what it is you do while using your device. This information is then sent to eBook retailers for analysis. It’s not quite spying, but it is like having someone looking over your shoulder and taking notes about your reading habits.
What do you think? Does it worry you that companies like Amazon and Barnes & Noble are now analyzing every word you read? Or does the lack of privacy get outweighed by the benefits that this data can provide? Do you think this kind of data will help publishers give readers a better experience?